Saturday, 18 January 2014

Excuses, excuses

Last week, after deliberating for several weeks, I decided to pull out of the Strathpuffer 24.  Well, would you want to see this guy more than 20 times over the course of 24 hours, most of it in the dark . . .?

Despite my fear of scary cycling skeletons, it may seem strange that only my second post on this blog is about a race I've decided not to do, but sometimes that's just the right thing to do and my excuses reasons are a key part of planning and prioritising an entire season.

Those who already know me will know I've got nothing to prove when it comes to 24 hour solo races and so despite the slightly damaged pride and guilt I'll feel this weekend when viewing the Puffer live results via UK XC News, it's absolutely nothing to do with fear of completing a 24 hour solo race.  Even this one, with its 17 hours of darkness and "interesting" weather conditions!  Those who did Relentless 24 in 2011 will remember the constant 24 hours of heavy rain and I personally think that's worse than ice and snow.  If I had been doing the Puffer, I'd have been hoping for ice over rain.  I'd much rather get the ice tyres and warm clothes on than trudge my way through mud for 24 hours, going through several sets of brake pads!

Someone suggested I could do it as a recce for next year, just go easy and check out the parking situation for the campervan, practice food stops, get to know the course . . . but I've done the 12 hour version (overnight) in the summer and do know the course.  A recce would have been good but not as the only reason to do it.

So, why not follow Rule no. 5 and just do the race?

Well, my main reason is simply that my heart just wasn't in it.  I realised I wasn't doing it for the right reasons.  I had a good season last year and decided to focus this season on the British and Scottish XC series.  I put the Puffer in there, right in the middle of my base training period, simply becaue I felt I had to.  Sometimes when I mention my 24 hour races to non-mountain bikers, they say "Is that the thing that's on the Adventure show?" and it would just nice to be able to say "yes" to that question for once.  But that's not a reason to do such a tough race!  Neither is trying to get on the telly!

I signed up because I felt I had to.  Because it feels like every 24 hour racer should do the Puffer at least once.  And if that's your reason, and you're not totally 100% focussed on an event like this, then you'll just be miserable the whole time.  I spent all of last season, building up to Relentless24 and it felt great.  I genuinely enjoyed it, even when it was really hard going.  There's no way I would have enjoyed this when I'd classed it as a C priority race and wasn't doing it for the right reasons.

The other main reason is that I just don't want to risk my main priority races this year - The British XC Series and Scottish XC Series, both kicking off in March.  Racers often use an A/B/C priority system to tailor their training plan and peak for their A priority races, with B races still being important and Cs being the ones you may or may not do, just for a bit of practice.  There's no point risking my A priority races for the sake of one I considered as a C.  It takes me a good month or two to fully recover from a 24 hour solo race and I just don't want to risk not being at full fitness for the XC season.

So, that's my excuses out of the way and I just want to say good luck to everyone competing in the Puffer over today and tomorrow - hope the weather is kind to you and take care of those brake pads!

Now, I'm not using this race-free weekend to sit around, so it's off out on the road bike today for some endurance training then some good hilly mountain biking tomorrow!

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